Home Schooler Wins Before Alabama Court of Appeals
On May 15, 1992, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed a lower court’s truancy conviction of Randy Maas, a home-schooling father and HSLDA member.
Last September Randy Maas was visited by two local school officials who demanded that he place his children in public school immediately. Maas explained that he and his wife were properly and legally home schooling. He also informed the officials that the family would be moving to Georgia within the next few days.
Within hours the DeKalb County truant officer arrived, accompanied by a police officer who arrested Mr. Maas and took him to jail in handcuffs. Mr. Maas was released the following day after posting a $300 bond.
HSLDA attorney Chris Klicka contacted the prosecutor and explained that Randy Maas should not have been arrested because he did not receive the three days written notice required by Alabama Code §16-28-16. Attorney Klicka also pointed out that the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that compliance with this same code must be literal, not substantial, in order to bring criminal charges. The prosecutor refused to dismiss the charges and the case went to trial.
HSLDA secured Jim Hess of Huntsville, Alabama, to represent the Maas family. In spite of Hess’ excellent defense, the judge arbitrarily ruled against Randy Maas, finding that the notice requirement was substantially complied with in the form of the two hour verbal notice. Maas was fined and sentenced to 60 days in jail. Since the family had moved to Georgia, however, the judge suspended the sentence on the condition that the Maas’ place their children in public school should they ever resume residence in Alabama.
Attorney Klicka appealed the decision to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, arguing that Mr. Maas’ due process rights guaranteed under the Alabama Code were violated. On May 15, 1992, the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction of Randy Maas. The Court of Appeals held that the three day written notice is an “essential element” of the state’s case against Mr. Maas and agreed that the trial court had erred by refusing to dismiss the charges against him.
Mr. Maas is vindicated by this decision and his record is cleared. The family is free to relocate in Alabama if they so desire. We thank God for restoring justice in this case. Hopefully other Alabama school districts will take notice of this case and refrain from blatant disregard of the due process rights of Alabama home schoolers.